Autism Special Interest Group Meeting at AUCD 2021 Conference


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Archived Recording
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Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Location: Zoom

Please join the AUCD Autism SIG meeting on November 9. This session will focus on mental health issues in autism, including assessment of psychiatric comorbidities, access to quality mental health care, suicidality, and more. The session will include brief talks and time for networking and resource sharing. Participants will help to guide development of our SIG’s April Autism Acceptance Webinar Series which will focus on mental health in Autism.


Brenna Maddox, PhD & Lisa Morgan, MEd, CAS &- University of North Carolina, School of Medicine

  • Suicide Awareness and Prevention

Jordan Klein, PhD – Medical University of South Carolina

  • Psychiatric Comorbidities

Wanda Felty – Center for Learning and Leadership at University of Oklahoma’s UCEDD

  • Mental Health Advocacy

Autism Special Interest Group Co-Chairs:

Man smiles at the camera. He has brown hair and brown eyes. He wears a blue collared shirt.. Brian Be

Brian Be is AUCD's Autism Special Interest Group co-chair for the last 2 years. He is autistic & artistic; a self-advocate, performer, and geek of story. He's the Self Advocacy Coordinator for JFK Partners at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He brings arts into community wellness programs with edutainment. As a Poetry for Personal Power Project Manager, he is a proud co-developer of the P3 Wellness & Resiliency Story Circle and continues to work on program design, networking, and implementation. He's served the community in many ways including 10 years on the Colorado Behavioral Health Planning and Advisory Council, 2 years as co-chair of JFK Partners Community Advisory Council, 8+ years with Integrated Dance, and 4+ years plus with Roshni, a dance group engaging immigrants and refugees along with other locals. Why does he go by Brian Be? Simple, Be yourself, quirks & all.


Woman with shoulder length dark red hair wearing a black jacket and patterned blouse underneath

Laura Carpenter, PhD

Laura Carpenter, PhD is a Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina and co-chair of AUCD’s Autism Special Interest Group. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and the training director of the South Carolina LEND program. Her research focuses on the assessment and treatment of youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as ASD epidemiology.


Autism Special Interest Group Vice Chairs:

Black male in suit speaking at podiumGyasi Burks-Abbott, MS, Self-Advocate Vice Chair

Gyasi Burks-Abbott is a writer, public speaker, and autism self-advocate. He's on the faculty of the LEND Program at Boston Children's Hospital and UMass Boston's Institute for Community Inclusion. He graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN with a BA in English and psychology, and he has an M.S. in Library and Information Science from Simmons University in Boston. Gyasi has been both a LEND Fellow at Boston Children's Hospital and a UCEDD Fellow at UMass Boston's Institute for Community Inclusion. In the latter role, Gyasi created a website of autism in adulthood resources. Recently, Gyasi collaborated on an article for the Developmental Disabilities Network Journal about remote meetings with legislators in D.C. called "Virtual Advocacy: Lived Experience Takes Center Stage During and After Pandemic." He also contributed to the AUCD Policy Blog: a short piece on what can be learned from the pandemic called "Disability in the Time of Corona" and some reflections on the intersectionality of being both black and autistic called "A Double Consciousness, If You Can Keep It." Currently, Gyasi serves on the boards and committees of several autism and disability organizations including Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council, and the Permanent Commission on the Status of Persons with Disabilities. He lives in Bedford, Massachusetts.


woman with black shoulder length hair smiling at the cameraAnjali Rao, MD, Academic/Clinical Vice Chair

Anjali has over twenty years of experience as a faculty pediatrician with Northwestern University where she provided care to multiple pediatric communities and taught medical trainees at the Feinberg School of Medicine. She is currently at the University of Chicago where she is sub-specializing in developmental and behavioral pediatrics and serves a patient population that disproportionately faces a myriad of health disparities. Her advocacy and research interests focus on increasing access to care for vulnerable youths and fostering system-wide change to increase care delivery for children and teens with developmental differences.Dr. Rao is also a developmental and behavioral pediatrics (DBP) fellow at the University of Chicago and was the 2020-2021 AUCD trainee liaison for the Illinois LEND. 


Please note:

  • There is no cost for this meeting.
  • CEUs are not offered for this meeting.
  • This webinar will be held on the Zoom Platform. You can test your connection with Zoom before joining the meeting here.
  • CART will be provided. For additional disability accommodations, email [email protected]
  • This webinar will be archived.